German Prefix Verbs Explained – “ausgehen”

ausgehen-rausgehen-meaningHello everyone,

and welcome to a new episode of our series about German prefix verbs – this time with a look at the meaning of



Just like English out  the German aus has the following two somewhat independent core ideas: outside-ness and off-ness. Today, we’ll see both of them in action, creating seemingly completely independent meanings for ausgehen.
But at their core, they’re not that far apart, actually.
So are you ready to jump it?
Then let’s go

And we’ll start with ausgehen as a translation for to turn off.

to turn off

Clearly, this is based on the off-aus, but the gehen might seem a little bit weird to you.
Like… what does it have to do with gehen if I turn off my phone? Well, the answer is nothing because ausgehen is ONLY to turn off from the perspective of the thing. Your phone can ausgehen, if the battery is empty, for example , but you cannot ausgehen your phone.
That would be ausmachen, then, but that’s another topic.
Still,  ausgehen is mega common in daily life and it works for a wide range of things, like a fire, a radio or a tap.

  • Mein MP3-Player geht nicht mehr aus.
  • I can’t turn off my mp3-player.
  • Marias Zigarette ist ausgegangen.
  • Maria’s cigarette went out.
  • Ich find’s okay, wenn ein Wasserhahn von alleine ausgeht, aber bitte nicht nach 3 Sekunden.
  • I think it’s okay for faucet to close itself but please not after 3 seconds.
  • Immer wenn ich die Mikrowelle anmache, geht das Licht aus.
  • Whenever I turn on the microwave the light goes out.

When the light goes out, though, I know where to find it. Because usually, it goes to that bar around the corner for a few Bud Light… haha.
Now you’re like “Is he drunk?!”. To which I say with absolute reassurance: kind of.
But my silly comment about the light going for a few beers was not just me being tipsy-silly.
It’s actually to show you how the idea of off and outside are connected – the both share a notion of “not being (in) here”.
When the kitchen light goes out, it’s not in the kitchen anymore. And if your flatmate goes out she’s not in the kitchen either.
Now, that of course begs the question whether ausgehen also means to go out in the local sense.
And the answer is yes… but…

ausgehen – a sense of exit

Ausgehen does mean to go out but ONLY in the sense of hitting the town. It does NOT work in the sense of simply leaving a building. For that you’ll need rausgehen. But we’ll get back to that later.
So, ausgehen is to go out on the town

  • In Berlin kann man eigentlich immer ausgehen.
  • There is always something to do in Berlin (culture, party)
  • Die Weserstrasse ist zur Ausgehmeile geworden.
  • The Weserstrasse has become a shopping and night life hot spot.
  • Thomas und Maria wollen mal so richtig schick ausgehen.
  • Thomas and Maria want to have a night on the town in style/hit the town like the rich and famous. (dress, suits, fancy dinner, cocktail bar)

Now, even though this ausgehen is still kind of standard and all the examples are perfectly idiomatic, I feel like it slowly starts to become a little… dated. Or at least it gets kind an official tone.
Here’s a little overview over phrasings that people use instead.

  • Party machengeneric term for partying, works for drinking at home as well as going out
  • feiern gehen at least in Berlin, this is the number one phrase for clubbing and dancing
  • was trinken gehenvolunteer on the animal farm… kidding, you know what it means
  • was machen most generic one. Can mean having a few beers, going to a club, going to Cirque du Soleil… anything really that goes beyond staying at home on the couch. 

I use all of the above at times, but not really ausgehen. You will definitely see it used that way but when you talk to friends I’d say don’t use it… it just sounds a tad bit too formal.
Now, going out is fun and all, but we all have those days where we’d rather chill at home and watch some Netflix or read a book.  And then, too, ausgehen is a good thing to have in our vocabulary. Because it can also mean to end in context of stories.

  • “Hast du Dark gesehen?”
    “Nee, aber ich glaube weiß wie’s ausgeht.”
  • “Have you seen Dark?”
    “No, but I think I know how it ends.”

And we don’t actually need much mind bending to make sense of that.  The end of a story, the resolution is kind of the “exit” of the story. Just think of the phrase “to go out with a bang” – we have the same notion of ending there.
In practice, this ausgehen is only used in context of some kind of narrative or story.
So it’s NOT a general sense of coming to an end. A period of time or a subscription or something can NOT ausgehen.

  • Kuhdrama gut ausgegangen – Feuerwehr holt Kuh unverletzt vom Baum. (could be a newspaper headline)
  • Cow drama with a happy ending – fire fighters got the cow off the tree.
  • Niemand kann sagen, wie die Wahl ausgeht.
  • Nobody can say what the result of the election will be.

Now, the meanings we had so far are already enough to make ausgehen a word you need to add to your active vocabulary. But there’s actually another use. And that one is a little more abstract…

ausgehen von – to assume

Yes, you rad that right. ausgehen can also translate to to assume. Seems weird and unrelated at first, but it actually makes a lot of sense, if we think of the idea we just had – the going out, exiting – in a sense of venturing out.
You see, assuming something is basically taking something as a reality for the time being. We don’t know it for a fact, but we treat it as the base from which to act and move forward.
The assumption is the point from which we venture out into the future. A working hypothesis, if you will.

  • Ich gehe davon aus, dass du kommst.
  • You’ll come, I take it/assume.

And if you don’t really see the logic yet, just think of the English sentence “I know where you’re coming from.” It’s not the same, of course, but it also talks about a persons point of origin in a metaphorical sense.
Here are a few more examples…

  • Der Forscher geht davon aus, dass Zeitreisen in 10 Jahren möglich gewesen waren werden.
  • The scientist expects/believes that, in 10 years, time travel will have had was possible.
  • Lehrer sollten nicht einfach davon ausgehen, dass die Schüler Grammatikbegriffe kennen.
  • Teachers shouldn’t automatically assume that students are familiar with grammar terms.
  • “Wie lange muss man denn auf dem Bürgeramt warten?”
    Geh mal von 5 Stunden aus! Dann wirst du nicht negativ überrascht.”
  • “How long do I have to wait at the citizens registration office?”
    Plan with/expect 10 hours – then there won’t be negative surprises.”

As you can see, the translations vary a bit, but the idea is always the same.
Oh and I guess I should also mention that German has a second word for to assume: annehmen.
They’re really similar but I think annehmen sounds a little less poised or expecting. We’ve talked about it in a separate article though (link below), so you can check that out if you want to know more :)

So those were the four meanings of ausgehen that are worth remembering…

  1. to turn off (by itself)
  2. to hit the town
  3. to end (stories)
  4. to assume

There’s actually a fifth one (yeah, I know), which is to run out  in a sense of depleting resources.
The meaning itself doesn’t need much mind yoga … I mean, to run out and to go out are not that far apart.
But we do need mind yoga to use this type of ausgehen because the grammar is… well… twisted.
Or actually, it’s twisted in English.
You see, you say “I am running out of money.” That sounds like you’re running and you’re getting away from money, when actually, the money is running away from you.
And that’s how it is phrased in German… the money is the subject and the person is an object.
This meaning isn’t really something you need in daily life, so don’t worry to much. I just want to give you the examples for completion.

  • Langsam geht der Regierung das Geld aus.
  • Slowly, the government is running out of money
    Lit.: Slowly, the money is going out/away from the government.
  • Meinem Chef gehen langsam die Ideen aus.
  • My boss is slowly running out of ideas.

And of course we also need to mention the noun der Ausgang, which can carry several of the ideas of the verb…

  • Die Diplomaten sind mit dem Ausgang der Gespräche zufrieden.
  • The diplomats are satisfied with the outcome of the talks (focus on how they ended, not on the actual result)

  • Die Ausgangslage ist kompliziert.
  • The starting situation/initial(current) situation is complicated.

But the most important translation is our course exit.

  • Der Ausgang ist da drüben.
  • The exit is over there.

And that brings us right to our last point for today… the r-version.


And like most r-versions, rausgehen takes the combination of verb and prefix literally and so THAT’S the German verb for  to go outside. Yes, the noun is der Ausgang, and the verb is rausgehen.
Because German!
Seriously, ausgehen would sound REALLY strange.

  • Wollen wir ausgehen?

If you were to say that at a bar your friends would be super confused… like… what? We’re at a bar. So we ARE out already. If you want to ask them to come outside, you really, really need this little r there. Just a small scratch in the throat, but it makes a big difference…

  • Ich gehe aus.
  • I go out to party/see culture/do fun stuff.
  • Ich gehe raus.
  • I go outside.

Rausgehen is really really important, so here are a few more examples.

  • Bei dem Wetter will ich nicht rausgehen.
  • I don’t want to go out(side) in this weather.
  • In der Mittagspause gehe ich gerne ein bisschen raus.
  • I like to go outside for a bit/catch some fresh air during my lunch break.
  • Maria ist kurz rausgegangen eine rauchen.
  • Maria went outside for a second to have a cigarette.

Oh and rausgehen has some abstract powers too, so here’s an example for that:

  • Rotweinflecken gehen nur schwer wieder raus.
  • Red wine stains won’t come out easily.

And I think that’s it for today.
This was our look at the meaning of ausgehen, which might actually be one of the most important prefix verbs around. .
As always, if you want to check how much you remember, you can take the little quiz I have prepared for you.
And if you have any questions or suggestions just leave me a comment.
I hope you liked it and see you next time.


further reading:

Word of the Day – “von… aus”
Prefix Verbs Explained – “annehmen”



** ausgehen – fact sheet **

meanings and structures: 

ausgehen (to turn off/be turned off… devices switching from on to off)
ausgehen (to to out on the town … party, dinner, culture)

etwas geht jemandem aus (somebody runs out of something, often money or time – mind the reversed grammatical roles)

von etwas ausgehen (to assume/expect/plan with something)
davon ausgehen, dass (to assume/expect/plan with the fact that)

spoken past:
form of sein + ausgegangen

written past:
ausging- /ging- aus

related words:
der Ausgang – the exit, the outcome, the result, the ending
die Ausgangssperre – the curfew
die Ausgehmeile – shopping and party area… has a “touristy” undertone
ausgehend von – assuming
die Ausgangslage – the initial/starting situation

direct opposites:
angehen (to be switched on/turn on)
zu Hause bleiben (to not go out on the town :)

—– to be edited back in———



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10 months ago


Ich habe eine Frage zu einem Ihrer Beispiele.

Der Forscher geht davon aus, dass Zeitreisen in 10 Jahren möglich gewesen waren

Es scheint nicht dem Futur I- oder II-Konstrukt zu folgen. Ist das ein Sonderfall?

Danke für die Klarstellung.

1 year ago

Hi! I was studying the use of “weggehen” and “ausgehen” and read a comment somewhere about “weggehen” being the one to use when going out with friends and not a romantic interest. Is that something to be considered when using “ausgehen”?

1 year ago


Unter welche Bedeutung von “ausgehen” wuerde diese Verwendung in Ihrem Artikel fallen?

“Politische Kampagnen sind heute ein moderner Informationskrieg”, sagt Dan Pfeiffer, “massive Propagandaoperationen, die mit Twitter-Bots von Staaten ausgehen”


2 years ago

Hallo Emmanuel
Diese Lektion war auch so toll wie die Anderen.
Dass du den Unterschied zwischen “Ich gehe aus” und “Ich gehe raus” erklärt hast ist sehr sehr toll und unmittelbar nützlich.
Danke schön!

5 years ago

-Maria ist kurz rausgegangen eine rauchen.

Naively, I would have thought one must say
-Maria ist kurz rausgegangen, um eine (Zigarette) zu rauchen.

Kannst du die Grammatik erklären?

6 years ago

Da es im Artikel fehlt, frag ich mal nach: Stimmt es tatsächlich, dass die Deutschen “sich ausgehen” gar nicht benutzen? Hier in Österreich hört man das jeden Tag, im Bezug auf zu wenig Platz/Zeit, in etwa so:

– Kriegst du diese kurze Aufgabe heute noch hin?
– Nein, es geht sich leider nicht mehr aus.

– Gibt’s da genug Platz für den Tisch?
– Ja, es geht sich aus.

6 years ago
Reply to  rale09

Ich habe das sogar in irgendeinem Youtube-Video von einem Österreicher gehört, der jetzt in Berlin wohnt. Er meinte, dass es in Berlin nicht sofort verstanden wurde (er wohnt jetzt da).

6 years ago

— ausgehen does NOT work for you turning off something. Only for stuff turning off by itself.
•Mein MP3-Player geht nicht mehr aus.
•I can’t turn off my mp3-player.

*Confused* That’s contradictory surely? If it only works for turning off by itself then surely it would have to mean “My mp3-player won’t turn itself off (any more)”?

Or is it actually closer to “My MP3 player won’t [can’t be/refuses to] turn off” or “I can’t get my MP3 player to turn off”? Is it not just for stuff turning off by itself as also including a passive sense of being turned off or able to be turned off?

Out of curiosity, how would one translate/differentiate:

a) My MP3 player can turn itself off
b) My MP3 player can be turned off.
c) My MP3 player keeps turning itself off

(Recently discovered this blog. Absolutely adore the difference-between articles e.g. mindestens/zumindest/wenigstens and mögen/gern/gefallen. I now have a lot of reading-up to do! Danke!)


6 years ago

How flexible is “ausgehen” in the sense of “to turn out”? Can you use it to describe how good/bad a thing ends up being, or only how a process or a story concludes? Maybe some examples…

– Der Film ist überraschend gut ausgegangen.

Would this only mean that the film had a surprisingly good ending, or could it also mean (maybe with more context) that despite a troubled production history, it turned out to be a surprisingly good film?


– Der Kuchen, den Maria für Thomas’ Geburtstagsfeier gebacken hat, ist gut/schlecht ausgegangen.

Does this work?

6 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel


Quick follow-up on that – is “ausgehen” in this sense totally focused on the end, or does it also feel like an evaluation of the whole process/story? Like if you say last Friday evening “ist gut ausgegangen”, does that just sound like it ended well, or that you’re satisfied with the way the whole evening went?

And while I’m at it, what would be the most natural way to express my examples with the movie and the cake?

6 years ago

Great post <– (This compliment is inherent to your blog:)
I have a question, maybe a stupid one, but here it goes:
When does "ausschalten" join this game?
The expression: "Ich m̲a̲c̲h̲e̲ den Fernseher a̲u̲s̲." seems to be very common. So when you say "den Fernseher ausschalten" you're being too formal? One can use "mache___aus" and/or ausschalten for any electronic device? 'Cause if "I" am the subject, I can not 'ausgehen' my TV/MP3, right? So which expression should I use when I am the subject who wants to switch something on/off?
Vielen dank!!!

6 years ago

Not sure why, but “going out in style” has a very fatalistic connotation (at least in American English). It has been redined to mean “taking an extreme risk despite the consequences, up to and including death”.

But, “going out in style” makes sense. And there aren’t many immediate alternatives that aren’t fairly obscure (“dressing to the 9s”, “painting the town red”).

I think öut on the town” is pretty common and connotes a vanilla-flavored recklessness. Like paying too much for cocktails and settling for a seat at the bar of a oh-so-popular restaurant.

6 years ago

Danke für den Artikel, der wie immer interessant, informativ, mit tollen Beispielen Ist.
Meine Versuche mit ‘ausgehen’:
Langsam geht dem Accu die Aufladung aus.
Schnell geht dem Mann die Geduld aus.
Man muss davon ausgehen, dass die Zeit des Lebens schnell läuft.
Die echte Liebe geht nie aus.
Ich hätte gern deine Korrekturen.

6 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Danke sehr für die Analyse. Ich habe Dativobjekt beim Liebe vergessen deshalb habe ich den Satz ‘The true love is never switched off.’ statt ‘ The true love never ends.’ bekommen. Habe ich das jetzt richtig begriffen?
Dann noch ein Versuch beim ‘Liebe’:
Den glücklichen Paare geht die echte Liebe nie aus.
Das macht mir Spaß alle deine Kommentare zu lesen. Danke vielmals!

6 years ago
Reply to  Olga

Da würde ich eher sagen “Die echte Liebe geht nie zu Ende.”

6 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Vielen Dank für die Erklärungen. Ich schätze deine Mühe hoch. Heute beim Deutschunterricht hat meine Lehrerin gerade den Satz ‘ich gehe davon aus…’ verwendet. Und ich war froh, dass ich das schon bei dir gelernt habe. Alles gute!

6 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Vielen Dank für den Kommentar, Emanuel! Du bist immer so zuvorkommend.
Geht es so ‘Gerade gestern beim Deutschunterricht hat die Lehrerin…’? (Ich meinte ‘Just today …’)

6 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Die Beispiele klingen für deutsche Ohren deshalb ungewöhnlich oder “komisch”, da “ausgehen”
in diesen beiden Kontexten kaum als Verb benutzt würde:
“Schnell geht dem Mann die Geduld aus” – idiomatisch: “Schnell verliert der Mann die Geduld”.
“Die echte Liebe geht nie aus.” – idiomatisch ohne Negation: “Echte Liebe hält ewig”.

Ähnlich verhält es sich mit der “schnell laufenden Zeit”:
“(…), dass die Zeit des Lebens schnell läuft” – idiomatisch nicht als Verlauf, sondern als Verkleinerung einer endlichen Menge gedacht: “(…), dass die Lebenszeit schnell verrinnt”.

6 years ago

Mir ist der Zucker ausgegangen. Is this meaning covered here for ausgehen??

6 years ago

Is it usual to structure jokes like that?

“Fragt eine Kerze die andere:” statt “Eine Kerze fragt die andere:”?

Also, what’s the deal with “Maria ist kurz rausgegangen eine rauchen”? Is that structure becoming more and more common?

Thanks for the article nonetheless ^^

6 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Thanks for the name of Absentiv! Cool stuff. I’m well aware of the construction and use it too, but I’ve never ever seen it in the “Nachfeld” like that. Like, I immediately would understand “Maria geht kurz raus eine rauchen” but “rausgegangen eine rauchen” made me read it twice before I understood the flow of the sentence.

I looked up the Absentive and found a little bit on it (namely here: and here:

Turns out Italian does this too, “Gianna è a mangiare”, meaning “Jan ist essen”. Cool stuff!

Do you happen to know of (slash could you come up with) any other examples that have the absentive constructive in the Nachfeld?

Thanks heaps again!

6 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Bloody fantastic analysis, I love it. I think you hit the nail on the head. Made total sense (I am a grammar nerd). I suppose it’s effectively just like “Sie geht raus, um eine zu rauchen” but instead of the “in order to” feeling you want the “absentive” feeling because that’s what you want to describe and so you get:

“Sie geht raus (the “eine rauchen” kind of raus)”. => “Sie geht raus eine rauchen.”

Thank you so much Emanuel, I hope to teach one day and this just gives me so much juicy comprehensive info!

6 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Interesting… standup comedians sometimes deliver one-liners in English in the form “Says one x to the other, ….” but “says” is the only verb that works for, and it could also be said “One x says to the other, …” But there’s something traditional-standup-comedy-sounding about the former – and it sounds to me kind of working-class British, too, so it’s probably a dialect thing.

6 years ago

Was meint der erste die in •Niemand kann sagen, wie die die Wahl ausgeht bitte? Ich wurde nur ” wie die Wahl ausgeht” geschreiben. haben. Ich verstehe dass man hier ein dativ benutzen konnen. zB ich Weiss nicht wie es Ihnen ausgeht.

6 years ago

Thomas and Maria want to go out with style… how would you say that, native speakers please help :)

If you say “go out with style” you make it sound a bit like like they want to kill themselves spectacularly, like Thelma and Louise. It’s not the simple ‘going out’ part that is conveying this meaning it’s the whole “going out with style” construction which is a bit of a euphemism for suicide.

There are several other options available: step out, hit the town, party.

‘Go out’ can also work with other phrasings e.g. if you say ‘go out together’,

Also, ‘in’ is the slightly better preposition here than ‘with’, so “Thomas and Maria want to step out in style.”

6 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

To me, “go out with style” implies a grand ending of something more than a date situation. And “step out in style” sounds like something Jackie Gleason would say in “The Honeymooners”. I can’t imagine myself saying it without at least a little self-mockery involved.

6 years ago
Reply to  George

Yeah, I don’t think “go out with style” necessarily sounds like suicide or whatever, but it definitely does sound like ending some big undertaking (life, career) with a bang. Could be a triumphant last rock show by a band before they retire/break up, could be Thelma and Louise.

I agree that “step out” sounds kind of old-fashioned, but honestly, so does Thomas and Maria’s date. :) But “have a night on the town” might get my vote too. I feel like there’s some other expression that I can’t quite remember that would fit well, but that happens to me a lot…

6 years ago
Reply to  berlingrabers

I’ve got a two-year-old and a four-month-old at home – I’ll leave it to you to guess which is more likely :

6 years ago

Regarding this example:
– Thomas und Maria wollen mal so richtig schick ausgehen.
– Thomas and Maria want to go out with style/like the rich and famous. (dress, suits, fancy dinner, cocktail bar… how would you say that, native speakers please help :)

A couple possibilities:
– Thomas and Maria want to step out tonight.
– Thomas and Maria want to paint the town red.
The latter is perhaps more about drinking and dancing than a fancy date.

6 years ago
Reply to  Matt

I’d say something like:
-Thomas and Maria want to go out for a night on the town.
This, to me anyway, is a bit more formal and really implies something at least a bit fancy. I certainly wouldn’t use it for a pub crawl.

Ano Menschkind-Königin
Ano Menschkind-Königin
6 years ago

Cooler Artikel, wie immer. Aber eine Frage; stell dir vor dass du jemanden gern hast & will mit ihr ne Date machen; so wie wird man das Satz stellen?

“Willst du mit mir rausgehen?” finde ich iwie peinlich, si wie sagt man das genau? Vielen dank! ^.^

6 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Vielen dank! =^^=

So das bedeutet, dass ich nur sie über die Aktivitäten die wir zusammen machen werden fragen soll, ob sie Bock haben oder nicht? OK dann! :)

Und, zwar hat das wenig damit zu tun, aber, wie sind ‘ab’ & ‘weg’ unterschiedlich? Die sind voll gemeinsam für mich, zB-:

Ich schneide das Fleisch ab.
Ich schneide das Fleisch weg.

Wie sind die unterschiedlich? :/

6 years ago

P. S. let me just be more concrete about my first question:
“Niemand kann sagen, wie die die Wahl ausgeht.”
why isn’t it like this:
“Niemand kann sagen, wie die die Wahl geht aus.”

Miloš Bošković
6 years ago

Hi, great article, as always!

Two questions from me:
1. Is the prefix in (r)ausgehen always separable, or maybe some of these examples have a inseperable form of (r)ausgehen?
2. “Der Forscher geht davon aus, dass Zeitreisen in 10 Jahren möglich gewesen waren werden.” -> “gewesen waren werden” – what was that?!?

Vielen dank!

Andres C.
Andres C.
6 years ago

…, dass Zeitreisen in 10 Jahren möglich gewesen sein werden?

Alan Evangelista
Alan Evangelista
3 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

I see I was not the only one confused with this time travel example and the messed up verbal tenses in the German sentence and in the corresponding English translation. Which of the following sentences you meant?

“dass Zeitreisen in 10 Jahren möglich sein werden” (active voice, Zukunft I) (= “that time travels will be possible in 10 years”)


“dass Zeitreisen in 10 Jahren möglich gewesen sein werden” (active voice, Zukunft II) (= “that time travels will have been possible in 10 years”)

Or something else?